Money is among the top causes of stress for many people in this country, from worrying about paying off debt to trying to save money for emergencies or future goals like retirement. In a study from the American Psychological Association (APA), 65% of people said money is a significant source of stress. With rising inflation rates, economic uncertainty, and paying more for everyday items, it’s not surprising that so many individuals may be anxious about their finances. Keeping an eye out for warning signs that your stress levels are getting high can be a reminder to take action to help relieve financial pressure and better support your mental health.
Each person may have different financial stress triggers, but here are some common stressors that can cause tension and impact your mental health:
Oftentimes, just looking at your bank account or credit card balance can be stressful. Money-related anxiety can affect your physical and mental health, your relationships, and sometimes even your quality of life.
Your mental and physical health are closely linked, and worrying about money, especially for long periods, may start to take a toll on your overall well-being. High-stress levels can affect your energy levels, eating and sleeping habits, or lead to headaches and chronic pain. Prolonged stress levels can also affect your respiratory and cardiovascular systems and could put you at a higher risk for other health problems. Plus, financial stress can negatively impact how we take care of ourselves and interact with others. You may find yourself being short with your partner or children or getting easily frustrated at work.
While experiencing stress in our lives is normal, it can be concerning when short-term stress turns into a chronic problem that lasts for months or more. To better manage your stress levels, it’s helpful to know what warning signs to look out for before they can become a more serious issue. Some warning signs of too much stress include:
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and feel your financial situation is to blame, it may be time to take action and find ways to help lower your financial stress. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional if you feel you could use some assistance in lowering your stress levels or getting through a difficult time.
When you’re looking to help alleviate financial stress, having a manageable budget is a key tool to help you feel more in control of your money. Understanding your income and expenses in detail, and working to get them into better balance, helps you navigate sudden financial demands, like car or house repairs, with a calmer mind. The more you know about your financial situation, the less stress you may feel when you look at your accounts. By keeping track of your spending, you can avoid going over budget, work more efficiently toward your financial goals, and find ways to bulk up your emergency fund for the future.
Devising a plan, especially during times of heightened financial stress, can help you map out necessary steps, get organized, and feel more in control of a tough situation. If a short-term stressor pops up, like an unexpected medical expense, take a look at your budget and decide how you can move around money or eliminate costs to free up funds to put toward your medical bills. Having an overall financial plan that you regularly maintain and update is a good proactive approach to managing money stress and can allow you to work toward savings goals, build an emergency fund, and keep on top of your expenses. When you have a clearer picture of your finances, you can make more confident decisions and bounce back from financial difficulties.
A common source of stress is keeping up with bills and making sure everything is paid on time. To help ease the mental load, use your budget to identify your regular monthly expenses and carve out that amount out of your paycheck. Set up automatic bill pay where possible to free up the time and energy it takes each month to enter each bill. This not only helps guarantee your money is going to your bills but can prevent you from spending money on unnecessary items. You can also have a designated amount of your paycheck automatically go into a savings account. Even if it’s $50 per month, you can begin to build up your savings and give yourself a little peace of mind knowing you have an emergency fund if needed.
Tracking your spending habits and being aware of how each paycheck is spent helps to put you in the driver's seat and can give you more financial freedom to choose where your money is going. A large part of promoting mental well-being is maintaining a positive outlook. This can certainly be challenging during times of high stress, but trying to focus on the things you can control while being grateful for the aspects of your financial life that are going well, can help keep things in perspective. By looking at your financial situation through a different lens, you can often shift your feelings of stress to an attitude of determination, so you’re ready to tackle any challenges that come your way.
Connecting with a financial professional can be very valuable when you’re experiencing financial stress or uncertainty. If going through a life event that is causing money concerns or stock market fluctuations have you worried about your savings, a financial professional can be a reliable resource you can go to for guidance. Most importantly, they can help you create a sound financial plan that allows you to manage your money with more confidence and be better prepared if the unexpected happens.
Most people experience financial stress at some point in their lives, but by taking steps to help manage stressors and being financially prepped for the unexpected, you can often improve how you react to money-related anxiety and find healthy ways to cope. Help support your mental health and lessen the impact of money issues by tuning into yourself and making your financial wellness a top priority.